This week Aribert Reimann’s “Lear” makes its premiere at the Salzburg Festival in a new production by Simone Stone with Gerald Finley as the title character. The premiere will see Finley in yet another new role as he continues to expand his varied and unique repertoire.
For years Finley has been a big proponent of modern and contemporary works, including the music of John Adams, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Stravinsky and Kaija Saariaho. He also recently created the role of Mr. Fox in Tobias Picker’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” And this week that affinity continues in “Lear.”
Reimann’s opera premiered in Munich in 1978, became a staple in the modern-day repertoire and gave the composer an international breakthrough. The music in the work is highly individual and radical and displays an extraordinary tonal and expressive range, extending from the most intimate internalization to explosions of untrammeled violence.
Lear is also one of the most complex characters that Shakespeare ever wrote. With Finley’s impressive acting chops and his expressive and refined voice, Lear should not only be a good fit for the singing actor but also a role he should easily triumph in. It will also give him yet another chance to showcase his dramatic power. After years of singing Mozart and many modern composers, Finley is moving into more dramatic lyric roles including Athanael in “Thaïs” and Scarpia in “Tosca.” He has recently moved into Wagner’s repertoire performing in “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” and Amfortas in “Parsifal. He also recently triumphed as Guillaume Tell and Michonet in “Adriana Lecouvreur.”
And for those who miss this incredible new role, Finley will continue to expand his repertoire and return to a number of important roles in his career. After triumphs in “Guillaume Tell” and Michonet in “Adriana Lecouvreur” last season, Finley is taking on such dramatic lyric roles including Athanael and Scarpia at the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera He will also return to Amfortas in “Parsifal” and will also bring his superb recital skills to Berlin, Oberlin and Atlanta.